My phone rang this afternoon, an uncommon occurrence which usually means confirmation of an appointment, notification of a prescription that is ready, or someone wanting to sell me something. This time, my caller ID showed me a number that didn’t look familiar, so I was hesitant about taking it. It was my daughter-in-law, and she seemed quite excited.
She’s usually a rather fast talker, but this time it was at a kind of supersonic speed, and her first thing was, “Guess what?”. She’d called to share good news was they had just signed the final papers for a house. She was so excited; how could I be anything but tremendously enthusiastic for her and my son. The neat thing is things seemed to fall into place as if it were planned out that way. It’s a house that they have rented for the last 12 years, and the landlord informed him that he was interested in selling the property about the same time that they had been discussing buying a house. Up until then, they were happy renting, but they’re getting older and figured it was time to contemplate purchasing a home. The fantastic part about it is that they love the house, the area, the neighbors, the proximity to places where they go frequently, and that that they don’t have to move a single piece of furniture unless they want to change which wall it is against.
Getting news like that is fantastic, like getting news of a new grandchild (I have a grand-cat, and that’s fine with me!), someone I know won the lottery or had some other wonderful things like that happen. It’s the kind of news I’d like to yell from the top of my trailer or call everybody I know to tell them. I didn’t do the former, but I did do the latter.
Getting good news seems to be like getting a breath of fresh air. Reading the local and national news is frequently rather depressing. It appears as if disasters and violence are abundant, and good news stories don’t seem to be anybody’s priority. Occasionally there is something fantastic, but it doesn’t last in the news as a school shooting, a false arrest, or something scandalous floating around the news stations that they can fill focus on.
We claim that Jesus preached the good news. We Christians believe that indeed it is good news, that Jesus came as a human being to live as a human being and also to invite us to share in the message of salvation and of the beauty of God’s kingdom. In some places, however, it would be hard to think about Jesus message as good news. The hope that Jesus brought and the joy of his words often get overlooked, just like the Bible verses, and there are many of them, that repeat “Love God and love your neighbor.” That’s good news, but we don’t always hear that when we listen to preachers and speakers talk to us about the wages of sin, how evil the world is, and how the kingdom of God is in heaven, which we can attain if we say the right phrases.
It’s difficult to focus on good news like “Love your neighbor as yourself,” when we seem to hear condemnation and the like from people who profess to be Christian. Where is the good news if someone is told that by just being who they are, they are condemned by God. What always amazes me is that people who often proclaim their Christianity the loudest are the ones who we later find have been adulterers, thieves, bearers of false witness, perpetrators of crimes against women and children, and any of a number of other crimes and misdemeanors. It’s no wonder the term Christian often brings scorn and disgust when someone brings up their faith.
Like buying a new house, good news deserves to be spread, allowing others to share in the happiness and the depth of feeling that goes with it. Like having a new baby, people forget about the cares of the world as they look over the new infant, hold it, and touch its little cheek or hand and feel the warmth. It’s good news when two people get married. It’s good news when our kids succeed in life and that they grew up to be responsible, loving, and contented people. It’s good news when we speak and act in such a way that helps others see the kingdom of God in their lives and the lives of others. It should be worth shouting from the housetops.
I’m happy for my kids; in fact, I couldn’t be more thrilled for them. I would like to think that there would be lots of good news around to cheer up a world that seems to be getting more cynical, sarcastic, and mean-spirited. Jesus didn’t teach those things. The focus of his message was love, and it seems to be that love is in short supply in lots of places.
The kingdom of God isn’t a goal to be achieved once I take my last breath. It’s something that is as close as my next breath and as available as God’s grace. It’s not something where I can add up points for righteous living like points for a gas discount by buying X number of dollars of groceries at a specific store. It’s a no-strings thing, unlike a buy-one, get-one-free offer. It does require some effort, difficult things sometimes, like loving my neighbors, even if they are very different from me. Still, I don’t have to raise a sweat to work on loving, or kingdom-building.
It could be as simple as shouting the good news from the rooftops.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and -retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She is also owned by three cats.